During my first couple of weeks out of employment (and in business), I have found myself occasionally referencing my short term progress against my monthly and quarterly goals. I have in fact set myself a reminder to check my monthly goals at the start of every week, to make sure that I am on track.
And as I said in my recent post, Let’s Make 2012 A Game Changer, flexibility is key when it comes to goals. Even though I only published my first set of goals 20 days ago (of which I was on holiday for 10), some have already become redundant or subject to change. That is to be expected from a new business finding its feet.
So with that in mind, how have January’s goals relating to niche sites been affected, and what progress have I made to date?
Any links to products on this page are not affiliate based – I do not get paid a commission if you buy any product that I recommend. If you would like to know why this is the case, check out my article: Why I Am NOT Trying To Make Money From This Blog.
Niche Site Mastery
As per my monthly goals for January, I did sign up to a niche site building course – Trent Dyrsmid’s Niche Site Mastery.
As you may be aware, I have some reservations regarding this product, as Trent barely makes any money from niche sites himself. In fact, I suspect (but cannot verify) that he is running at a considerable loss on his niche sites, as he is a huge advocate of using virtual assistants.
He made just $227 in December on AdSense sites, and I am sure that the setup costs of the sites were higher than the income produced to date. And before you mention asset value, the problem with arguing that the sites are all worth 20x their income is that the value is entirely theoretical until the sale completes.
I voiced my concerns on Trent’s December 2011 Income Report post in as neutral and non-accusatory manner as possible (because I am not in fact accusing Trent of anything). I asked Trent to reveal how much he spent on virtual assistants to build his sites. Unfortunately, he did not do so.
Furthermore, he asserted that I had “zero risk” as his product carries a 60 day money back guarantee. That would only be the case if his whole business model wasn’t based upon using virtual assistants – which it is. In pursuing his strategy, I am very much at risk of considerable financial loss.
Unfortunately, most of the people in the comments section of the post weren’t particularly receptive (which is unsurprising, given that it is his site), and my concerns weren’t really addressed. There was in fact only one chap called Mike who spotted that I wasn’t attempting to “undermine” Trent’s credibility (as Trent put it). I think everyone else thought I was just another troll.
Anyway. I have a lot of respect for Trent as a businessman, and my instinct tells me that he is an honest guy who wouldn’t put out a product unless it worked. He claims to have a system that can set you up for niche site success, and I am going to take a leap of faith in believing him. So I signed up to Niche Site Mastery. Only time will tell whether or not his techniques result in a healthy net income.
Just in case anyone is still in any doubt – I desperately hope that his course works. Not only would that be for my benefit, I also desperately want Trent to be who I think he is, and him producing a successful product would prove that to me. On the very limited basis that I have communicated with Trent, he seems like a great guy. I really don’t intend to start a war here.
Niche Site Building
Time to get back on track. The other niche site-related goal in January was to set up 5-10 sites. That is going to be a tough call, but I will give it my best shot.
My original plan was to build little 2 page sites. I felt I could handle that kind of workload in January (along with everything else that I am doing). However, I recently read this article over at Niche Pursuits which leads me to believe that a two page strategy may not be advisable.
So I have now switched to a 5 page strategy, which of course is more involved. And that is why I am not as sure as I was at the start of the month that launching 5-10 sites will be feasible! I am aiming for 5 sites this month – I doubt I will have time to build any more than that.
Progress To Date
I don’t really have anything to tell you at this stage regarding my progress. I have already set up one site in full, have one under development, and I also have another keyword picked and ready. All things being well, I hope to complete three niche sites this week, which leaves me with just one more to build on Monday and Tuesday of next week.
I built the first site myself entirely, and started doing the same with the second site. However, I quickly realized that I simply do not have the time to do the content creation myself (and in addition to that, it is pretty boring work).
So I have turned to Text Broker (which comes recommended by both Trent Dyrsmid and Spencer Haws) for my content creation. At around $8 per article (which would take me around 20-30 minutes to write), it really is a no-brainer.
Link building will also be outsourced. I will be experimenting on different link building strategies across the sites, to see which ones are most effective (and most economical). I currently have two strategies in mind – one is based upon this post, and the other is simple link building via BuildMyRank (or a comparable private blog network).
Without wanting to state the obvious too overtly, all of the above costs money. I am prepared to risk a proportion of my cash reserves in pursuing this project, but as with any business, I must keep tight control over my cash flow. Which leads me to…
You may have seen my quarterly cash flow projection for my business that I revealed in this post. It shows me as being relatively comfortable up until April 1st, at the least. And in fact, due to positive advancements this month, my cash flow projection is now even healthier (all will be revealed in January’s income report). A healthy cash flow allows me to set aside some money for niche site building.
At this stage, I have made some provisional projections as to how my niche site project might offer a suitable return. There are two key factors to bear in mind when making an investment such as this:
- When will my gross income, week by week, start exceeding my expenses?
- When will I break even (i.e. when will my total amount invested be equalled by my total gross income)?
In an attempt to answer those questions, I put together this spreadsheet:
As you can no doubt see, there are 4 factors that affect the accuracy of this spreadsheet:
- The number of sites produced per week
- The cost of building a site
- The amount of time it takes a site to start generating income
- The average income per site
At this stage, there is only so much I can do with regards to projecting income and making investment decisions off the back of my findings. I have control over the 1st factor, and I have partial control over the 2nd factor. However, I have no control over the 3rd and 4th factors, the numbers for which are largely based on guesswork.
I have set a rather arbitrary 13 week gap between a site’s inception and its first money-generating week. It took me around 90 days to hit top spot with my first niche site back in 2011, so I am roughly following that time period.
The income per site, per week, is based on two reference-points. The first is this post, which I use to project my gross income per site. (like Spencer, I am extremely analytical guy – in case you hadn’t noticed!). The second is an average of the projected gross income across the 4 sites I have already built or am in the process of building.
You’ll note from the above that I separate the 1st page of Google into three bands. In reality, estimating the organic SERP click-through rate is a crap shoot, so I believe that separating the CTRs into three bands is a sensible compromise.
So let’s assume for a minute that my estimates are accurate. If I build two sites a week, I will have to spend a net $3,720 (and wait until July) before I start making a weekly profit. Furthermore, I will have to wait until December before I break even on my investment. On the face of it, those figures are not pleasing, and at this stage, I am willing to invest a maximum of $1,500 on this endeavor.
If you focus on those facts alone, my plans do not look particularly promising. However, I am hoping for two possible game-changers to emerge:
- A higher average income per site than anticipated
- Early niche site sales fueling future investment
Either outcome would be extremely welcome, but I am really angling for the second one. As you can see from the income projection I showed earlier in the article, I will reach a net investment of $1,500 at the start of March. At that point, I will either need to sell one or more of my niche sites to continue funding the project, or reassess how much in startup funds I am willing to invest.
With the above in mind, I will go full steam ahead with my niche site building until March at the earliest, and hope that the additional data I gather over the next few weeks will provide me with the kind of information that can shape my long term plans. Only time will tell, and you guys will of course be the first to know!